Infoscience

Conference paper

Efficiency and Optimization of Explicit and Implicit Communication Schemes in Collaborative Robotics Experiments

This paper presents an investigation of three communication schemes which may be used in a distributed robotic system, two based on implicit forms of communication (mechanical interaction and vision) and one on an explicit form of communication (infrared signaling). To support the discussion, we have chosen a concrete case study concerned with locating and pulling sticks out of an arena floor, a task successfully achieved only through collaboration between two robots. Communication schemes, among other system features, heavily influence the rate of successful collaborations, the metric adopted to evaluate the performance of the robotic team. Results collected using an embodied simulator show that, as a function of the system constraints (e.g., number of robots, hardware and behavioral parameters,) solutions based on more complex individuals do not necessarily lead to an improved team performance. Although the stick pulling is a simple case study without any practical application, it presents all the main difficulties of designing and controlling scalable, distributed robotic systems, characterized by subtle, nested effects between individual and group behavior or hardware and software parameters. We believe that embodied simulations are a key level of implementation in helping us understand these subtle mechanisms, achieve further abstraction, and optimize the system before any real hardware solution is implemented.

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